YOU HIT A NERVE WITH “STORE WARS!” [August 1997], about the competition between Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue and the shopping habits of customers who patronize their stores. I took offense at the sentence that said “middle-class” customers who “can’t afford Neiman’s prices buy a tie or a jar of lotion just so they can say they own something from Neiman’s.” I am a member of the middle class and happen to be a member of Neiman’s InCircle program. The middle class probably makes up a substantial portion of the shoppers at both stores, and I have always been treated with the utmost respect by the personnel at Neiman’s and Saks. I also shop at Wal-Mart.

NEIMAN’S SYLVIA GOLDSTEIN is way underpaid. Anyone who has to cater to that group of insecure piano perchers deserves at least $1 million a year!
Chicago, Illinois

“NEIMAN’S WANTS HER. so does Saks.” Here’s a quarter; call someone who cares.

I SUSPECT “STORE WARS!” WILL be dismissed by some readers as superficial. For me, however, Skip Hollandsworth’s story on Neiman’s versus Saks was déjà vu all over again. In February 1973 Wendy Haskell Meyer wrote a similar story, “O What a Lovely War,” which ran in the inaugural issue of Texas Monthly, only the combatants then were Neiman’s and Sakowitz. As a former foot soldier in many retail skirmishes (I was the advertising director of Sakowitz when Meyer’s story ran; the next year I was the first retail advertising manager for Texas Monthly; later in 1974, I helped open the Saks store in Houston), I loved “Store Wars!” for jolting a plenitude of happy memories.

I HAVE DECIDED NOT TO SHOP at either Neiman’s or Saks. Both stores, in the pursuit of appearing upscale, have expanded their fur departments. I do not find the killing of animals for their pelts to be upscale or glamorous at all. For now, I will shop at stores such as Dillard’s and Foley’s, which have made the decision not to sell fur.

Border Dispute

AFTER READING ROBERT DRAPER’S “Soldiers of Misfortune” [August 1997], I was left to wonder if the Redford teenager would be alive today if our elected officials in Austin had not been so willy-nilly in dealing with the ongoing depredations along our border with Mexico over the years. In the lurid and shadowy world of mules, coyotes, and drug traffickers, appeasement and sycophancy is not the way the game is played. To cite the unfortunate incident at Redford as just cause for the curtailment of military operations along the border is foolish and shortsighted. The hour is much later than you may think.

WITH HIS FLIPPANT REMARKS, MR. DRAPER has insulted every Marine who has served this country. There is a reason that Marines are tasked with these duties: to protect our countrymen (even ones we don’t particularly care for) and keep drugs out of our neighborhoods. Regardless of what Mr. Draper may think, sitting on the border observing what goes on is a dangerous job. We have had remarkable results from our efforts that the American people will never know about.
Sergeant, United States Marine Corps, Austin

Folks in Dallas

AS AN ADMIRER AND SOMETIME collector of outsider art, I was surprised that “Folks” [August 1997] failed to mention American Artistry, the foremost folk art gallery in Dallas. This gallery opened about three years ago and has featured at least one of the artists mentioned in your story.

Spousal Support

I WAS EXCITED TO SEE SOMEONE finally do an article on the incredibly talented Gary Chapman [Television: “Heeeeeere’s Gary!” August 1997]. Although I’m a huge fan of Amy Grant, his wife, Gary is gifted in his own right—and it’s a real shame more people don’t know it.

The Jesse Thing

YOUR STORY ON JESSE JAMES was of great interest to me [Reporter: “Body of Evidence,” August 1997]. My great-great-grandfather William Wofford married a Mrs. Haygood (her maiden name was Nicolds), called “Ma” by her step-children. She claimed to be Jesse’s niece. She once had a “pretender”(a Jesse impersonator) shut down in Waco. She reportedly had records to prove her relationship. She also had a Colt pistol she said was Jesse’s, which I now have. She also claimed that Jesse did not die as history states. Later on, Ma’s son, Walter, wouldn’t talk about the “Jesse thing,” though he did mention that Ma had kept a clipping about Jesse’s supposed death in her Bible. Maybe someday someone will be able to sort through all the facts and fictions regarding Jesse James.

Mission Missed

HAPPY DOOMSDAY” [JULY 1997], about the House of Yahweh, which is apparently some type of cult, has caused some confusion between that group and our group, the Mission of Yahweh. We have been receiving phone calls and mailings regarding the House of Yahweh ever since that article was printed. The Mission of Yahweh is a nondenominational shelter for abused and homeless women and children that was opened in the sixties. Each year the mission helps more than four thousand people. Through donations from the private sector only, the mission also supplies the surrounding neighborhood with food, clothing, and school supplies.
Mission of Yahweh, Houston